Zurakov v. Register.com, Inc., No. 600703/01 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., N.Y. Cty. July 25, 2001), 760 N.Y.S.2d 13, 304 A.D.2d 176 (N.Y. App. Div. 2003) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Plaintiff registered the domain name "laborzionist.org" with defendant registrar Register.com, Inc. and entered into a service contract with defendant for the domain name. Before plaintiff's construction of a website, defendant linked the domain name to a "Coming Soon Page" featuring advertisements for defendant and some of defendant's corporate sponsors.
Plaintiff sued, alleging that defendant's actions violated the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and constituted deceptive trade practices and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleged that his registration of the domain name "laborzionist.org" gave him exclusive property rights and control over the name.
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that the service contract did not promise plaintiff exclusive use and control of the domain name and that its policy of using the "Coming Soon Page" was fully disclosed in the text of the FAQs and "Help" portions of its website. Because the issue of whether a domain name is a property right had never been decided by a New York court, the court looked to decisions of other jurisdictions. Persuaded by Network Solutions, Inc. v. Umbro Int'l and Dorer v. Aral the court held that an Internet registrant possessed only a contract right, not a property right, in the domain name. Therefore, plaintiff's service agreement with defendant exclusively governed his rights regarding the use of the "laborzionist.org" domain name. Because the parties' contract expressly permitted the complained-of activities, the court dismissed all of plaintiff's claims.
Appellate Court Proceedings Edit
On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim because there was no question about the existence of a written contract or that the contract encompassed the subject matter of plaintiff's claims. However, it reinstated plaintiff's claims for breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and for deceptive trade practices.
The appellate court held that the record was inconclusive on: (1) whether a reasonable consumer would look to the website for defendant's disclosure, and (2) whether a reasonable consumer, acting reasonably, would find the disclosures on defendant's website. Because the record was inconclusive, the court ruled that dismissal of the claims was not proper.
- ↑ 529 S.E.2d 80, 529 S.E.2d 80 (Va. 2000)(full-text).
- ↑ 60 F.Supp.2d 558 (E.D. Va. 1999)(full-text).
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